Rory McIlroy won't be teaming up with Niall Horan at the par-three event in Augusta
Niall Horan can leave his yardage book at home. Rory McIlroy has revealed that he will not be competing in the par-three contest at Augusta next week as he seeks to capitalise on the Masters spotlight being pointed elsewhere.
McIlroy employed the One Direction singer as his caddie last year and, just like in 2013 and 2014 when then-girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki did the carrying duties, that ensured lenses were clicking.
That inevitably only added to the focus already on McIlroy as he attempted to become the sixth player in history to complete the career grand slam. The 26-year-old has learnt his lesson.
"It's just too much hassle and a bit of a distraction and the year that I had my best chance at Augusta was in 2011 when I didn't play the par-three," McIlroy said. "So maybe the decision not to play it this year can work in my favour."
McIlroy also believes that the increased interest on the world No 1 and No 2 - Jason Day and Jordan Spieth - can also assist in his mission to remain as far away from the circus as possible.
Day moved ahead of Spieth in the rankings with victory in the WGC Matchplay on Sunday and, having also won at the Arnold Palmer Invitational the week before, has been elevated by the bookmakers into Masters favouritism.
"I already feel a little more mellow and a lot more chilled compared to the all the hype around me a year ago," McIlroy said. "You have the attention spread between Jordan going back to defend and Jason winning for a second week in a row and having won the US PGA last year and going for back-to-back majors. So there's a lot more going on around others."
McIlroy was left frustrated at being beaten on the 18th by Day in the semi-final at Austin Country Club, but he is adamant that his game is in shape to challenge.
"I guess you can see it as a sign of my self-belief that I am not going to Augusta early," he said. "I won't get there until Sunday night."